Southface has presented the prestigious Argon Award every year of this century to recognize visionaries whose work offers innovative solutions to environmental challenges. In 2022, the organization introduced the Luminary Award and Rising Star Award to honor additional sustainability leaders for their exceptional impact. Southface President James Marlow presented all three awards to Ryan Gravel, Susan Kidd, and Chandra Farley respectively at the organization’s 2022 Visionary Dinner, held at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. on the evening of October 6.
2022 Argon Award Winner: Ryan Gravel
The Argon Award is named after an unassuming but hugely important element in the sustainable building world, argon, which is the non-reactive gas that fills the space between the panes of high-performance windows. This award has honored many accomplished leaders working on the built environment, including Ray C. Anderson, Ted Turner, Dennis Creech, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, Liz Ogbu, and Jonathan Rose.
The 2022 Argon Award Winner, Ryan Gravel, is best known for his ambitious master’s thesis that proposed transforming underutilized freight rail lines to reconnect communities and catalyze equitable economic growth. Ryan helped make that idea a reality as the Atlanta BeltLine, a transit greenway that has inspired more than $7 billion in private sector redevelopment since 2005 and established a model of urban development that is increasingly replicated across the nation.
Ryan credits Southface with giving the BeltLine concept its first major audience at one of their Sustainability in Action Round Tables: “To many people, it sounded ridiculous—but not to the people at the roundtable that morning.”
As an urban designer, author, and speaker, Ryan continues to push the sustainability envelope with adaptable, long-term solutions for cities that work for everyone. He serves on the Partnership for Southern Equity board of directors and founded Sixpitch, Generator, Aftercar, and Elevator, leveraging a variety of approaches and partnerships to create a more equitable and resilient world.
2022 Luminary Award Winner: Susan Kidd
Southface’s Luminary Award was presented for the first time in 2022. It recognizes individuals whose intrepid and inclusive work on the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure is lighting the way to a healthier environment for all. The inaugural Luminary Award winner, Susan Kidd, blazed a trail as the first executive director of the Center for Sustainability at Agnes Scott College and mentored the next generation of climate action professionals along the way.
Over 14+ years, Susan led Agnes Scott to become a regional and national sustainability leader and a charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. She fostered active community participation in setting and achieving ambitious carbon reduction and neutrality goals at Agnes Scott and launched the school’s Green Revolving Fund to make it economically feasible. In collaboration with Southface, Susan brought geothermal heating and cooling and a quarter megawatt of on-site solar installations to increase energy and water conservation throughout the historic campus.
In her acceptance remarks, Susan thanked the community of colleagues, friends, family, students, and alumnae for their hard work and commitment. She then shared, “There would be no sustainability at Agnes Scott without Southface, and I’m not prone to exaggeration.”
2022 Rising Star Award Winner: Chandra Farley
The Rising Star Award was first presented by Southface in 2022 as well. The award recognizes early career contributions to achieving a healthier, more sustainable environment for all as well as the potential the honoree has to accomplish even more in the years to come.
The inaugural Rising Star award-winner, Chandra Farley, also has a special connection to Southface. As a former Southfacer, managing the annual Visionary Dinner was one of her responsibilities. Chandra described being honored with the award at the dinner years later to be a “full-circle moment.”
Chandra was chosen for her unwavering pursuit of climate justice across sectors and at all levels of government. As a data-driven community and coalition builder, she led initiatives to increase energy equity for Black, rural, and low-income communities throughout the Southeast. When Chandra accepted the Rising Star Award, she was just five days into her new role as Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Atlanta.
Awards Ceremony at the 2022 Visionary Dinner
The awards ceremony and acceptance remarks from Chandra Farley, Susan Kidd, and Ryan Gravel were major highlights of the 2022 Visionary Dinner. The evening also featured a musical performance by K-8 students from The SAE School (a grantee of Southface’s GoodUse program), remarks from Agnes Scott College President Leocadia I. Zak, and a showcase of electric vehicles and Edison electric bikes.
The goal of the event was not only to celebrate progress toward a more resilient and thriving world but also to encourage investment in the work it takes to get there. Make your tax-deductible donation to Southface Institute today to help increase the number of sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities nationwide.